PATERSON – After weeks of soft shoe forums, a hard showdown ensued at the Brownstone finally between former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and Mayor Jeff Jones on the condition of the city when Jones took office.
Jones succeeded Torres in 2010 when he beat him in a three-way race.
At this Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum this afternoon, with eight candidates competing, Torres struck at the incumbent mayor, referring to the layoffs of 125 police officers by Jones, which all challengers agree has hastened Paterson’s decline.
Not bothering to address Torres by name, Jones rose and told the crowd, “No one can tell you what it’s like to run a city of this size – with a $78 million deficit.”
That was a rip of Torres and his predecessor’s hand off, which the former mayor recognized.
The former mayor pounced, blaming Jones for mismanagement and fumbling away the city’s advantage.
“You overextended yourself and asked for $42 million in state aid, which you didn’t receive,” Torres said. “That’s not good business. That’s a lie. The proof is in the pudding.”
Torres said he left Paterson with a $7 million shortfall.
“This guy can’t even get the streets cleaned,” activist David Gilmore added, doubling down on Jones.
At-Large Councilman Rigo Rodriguez jumped in later, citing Torres for weakening the city, in part becasue of numerous lawsuits brought upon Paterson during the former mayor’s tenure.
“Joey Torrres broke it, Jeff Jones cannot fix it, Rigo Rodriguez can fix it,” the councilman said.